Wed, October 20, 2021

in-focus

Russia's 2020 covid death toll nearly three times than that previously reported


Russia's death toll from covid-19 in 2020 was nearly three times the level previously reported by the government, and accounted for half of all excess deaths last year, according to official data.

The Federal Statistics Service reported 44,435 deaths linked to covid-19 in December in a statement Monday, lifting the full-year total to 162,429. The number of deaths in 2020 reported by the government's virus response center was 57,555.

In total, 2,124,479 Russians died in 2020, nearly 324,000 higher than the previous year, according to the statistics service data. There were 94,000 additional deaths in December compared to 2019, a 63% increase.

December was the deadliest month for Russia in the pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said in a televised briefing Monday.

Russia's population shrank overall by nearly 700,000 people last year, more than twice the decline reported in 2019 and the worst shrinkage since 2005.

The figures demonstrate that the fallout from the novel coronavirus has been far worse than officials initially reported, even as President Vladimir Putin resisted locking down the country during the second, more severe wave of infections that started in the fall. Only the U.S., Brazil and Mexico have reported higher death totals in the pandemic so far.

The figures are a blow to Putin's long-held goal of reversing Russia's demographic decline. He has promoted a series of benefits aimed at increasing the birthrate and has overseen dramatic gains in life expectancy.

Russia has pinned its hopes for taming the pandemic on domestically developed vaccines, with Putin ordering universal access to the inoculation earlier this month.

February or March could be the turning point after which the pandemic could begin to ease, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said Friday in northwestern Russia, according to Tass news service. The authorities aim to vaccinate about 60% of the adult population in the first half of the year, he said.

Even before the vaccine is widely distributed, the infection rate has been falling. New daily cases are down by about a third from their December highs, and some regions have begun to ease restrictions intended to limit the spread of the virus.

In Moscow, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has allowed restaurants and bars to stay open all night long and dropped a requirement that employers keep at least 30% of their workers home.

Published : February 09, 2021

By : Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Jake Rudnitsky, Anya Andrianova